New interventions have been made as a response to the alarming statistics on gender based violence in Kiribati.
A Family Health and Support Study conducted in 2010 indicated that more than 2 in 3 (68%) women aged 15-49 who had been in a relationship reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner.
Since releasing the study, the Government established a Ministry of Women, formed a special domestic and sexual violence unit within the police force, and enacted the Te Rau N TeMweenga Act (Family Peace Act for Domestic Violence). This law aims at ensuring the safety of all people including children who experience or witness domestic violence.
Ms Froline Tokaa is the Coordinator for the Elimination of Sexual Gender Based Violence Project, which comprises key government ministries and stakeholders, including the church. She says that “having a taskforce helps a lot as we are able to integrate these sensitive issues into the work of other agencies”.
Ms Tokaa has been working with the Ministry of Education in developing curriculum and counselling guidelines for schools.
Apart from having a gender focal point within the Ministry, a committee was formed which included key unit experts such as a curriculum officer and representatives from the teachers college. This led to focused activities within this sector.
“One person cannot reflect the whole Ministry’s ideas. It’s strategic to invite other technical units to support a full integration of such issues.”
In Kiribati there is now a greater sense of ownership of the curriculum and teacher training programs are helping prevent violence in communities. In September 2015 there was a formal handover of the education and awareness aspect of the sexual gender based violence work from the Ministry of Women to the Ministry of Education.
Froline says she has seen an increase in teachers providing basic counselling to students “Before, when teachers had a student with a domestic violence problem they were not able to assist them, but now with the training and guidelines being developed, more teachers are assisting these students”.
16 Days – 16 Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific is an initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and SPC who are sharing stories of successful gender programs across the region and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declarationhas a specific priority on ending violence against women. Related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes. The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Kiribati progress as endorsement of Kiribati Shared Implementation Plan and increase in the number of women reporting on domestic violence.